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Next DVD Format War Still Wide Open 253

Posted by Zonk
from the going-to-have-to-buy-fifth-element-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite the wishes of partisan players like Sony and Toshiba, many consumer electronics manufacturers are opting to support both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs in upcoming media players." From the article: "Consumer electronics maker LG Electronics and PC maker Fujitsu-Siemens both said on Thursday they would keep their options open after computer giant Hewlett-Packard said last month it would back HD DVD as well as Blu-ray. Bjorn Sehrm, senior director Digital Home of Fujitsu-Siemens, told Reuters: 'We are planning to put both in. We don't take a stand in that fight, and actually we're very sorry that fight is happening.'
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Next DVD Format War Still Wide Open

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  • Who wins? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Agent00Wang (146185) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:52AM (#14890143) Homepage
    Who does this format war even benefit? I'm glad that some vendors will support both formats, but I for one will be waiting for things to die down before I invest in either format.
    • Re:Who wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Serapth (643581) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:01AM (#14890197)
      Actually this upcoming generation of media benefits the consumer very little. Thanks to draconian measures in HDCP obsoleting a good chunk of consumer electronics out there, it infact pretty much screws the consumer.

      Im not one to boycott products, but there is always a first. I will as long as possible, refuse to buy any product built around HDCP. Sadly, that means HD-DVD, BluRay, the PS3, etc... I sure as hell am not going to buy a new monitor and video card to support Vista. This doesnt mean no Vista, but from the sounds of it, it does mean no Media Center.

      This is one time where consumers should unite and say a collective "Fuck you!".
      • Re:Who wins? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:09AM (#14890245)

        Another concern is that newer media formats might not have the life cycle of CD and DVD. CDs are still useful and have been around a couple of decades, CDs are scratch tolerant, etc. DVDs still work, but are more fragile. How well do Blu-Ray and HD-DVD stand up?
        • Re:Who wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:26AM (#14890344) Homepage
          This is probably mostly due to data density. If your scratch is the same size on a CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu Ray, then on a CD it would damage x bits. Since a dual layer DVD holds about 14 CDs, i'm guessing the same scratch would take out 14x bits. Now if the new stuff holds 50 Gigs, lets call that 5X a DVD, it would take out 70x bits. Although I heard blu ray is supposed to have some heavy polymer that prevents scratching, how much will your fingerprint or speck of dust stop the player from reading properly. There's a reason that they put hard drives in sealed containers. I would think that a device such a bluray or hd dvd would require that there be very little dust in order for it to read properly. Either that, or a lot of ecc data.
          • Re:Who wins? (Score:5, Informative)

            by dusik (239139) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:45AM (#14890488) Homepage
            >> "Although I heard blu ray is supposed to have some heavy polymer that prevents scratching, how much will your fingerprint or speck of dust stop the player from reading properly."

            They actually came out with a new polymer covering for the Blu-Ray that's highly scratch-resistant. They did a demo a while back trying to jam a screwdriver into the disk and it was still fine. It's really quite an improvement.

            >> "how much will your fingerprint or speck of dust stop the player from reading properly."

            Possibly, but on the other hand that's not permanent damage :)
            • Re:Who wins? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KDan (90353)
              No, but given the omnipresence of dust, it's as good as permanent even if it keeps shifting from one part of the disk to another...

              Daniel
            • Is there anything about the new polymer (skews the optics, reduces reflectivity...) that would prevent it from being used on CD or DVD media? I assume that this isn't an option for blank media, but heck, I'd pay a little extra for a commercial DVD that could better withstand a 3-year-old.
            • They actually came out with a new polymer covering for the Blu-Ray that's highly scratch-resistant. They did a demo a while back trying to jam a screwdriver into the disk and it was still fine. It's really quite an improvement.

              Great, finally my Netflix discs will play properly!

          • Re:Who wins? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zpeterz63 (851922)
            This is a very good point and one that I have wondered myself. With the increase in data density, a scratch is really going to be very bad for your media.

            What I was wondering is if perhaps vendors could use the high capacity of this new generation of optical media to put a redundancy on the disk. I know that this would cut down on the maximum capacity of the disk, but, as far as I'm concerned, the current data capacity works just fine in 90% of all cases. Adding a data redundancy (perhaps at a reduced qu
            • That's a really good idea! I guess that's probably why they did something like that [wikipedia.org] when they designed the CD and DVD formats. Do a little bit of reading, and I think you'll be impressed. Actually, without the error correction technology, the tiniest speck of dust would completely freeze your video or music.
              After re-reading your post, it sounds like you're suggesting an additional layer of redundancy, but with the way the discs are encoded with error correction right now, an unrecoverable scratch would prob
        • Re:Who wins? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by PFI_Optix (936301)
          If the new generation of disks really are yet more fragile, that spells bad news given the increased efforts to prevent legitimate backups. They'd love to see us buying the same movie three or four times because of damaged disks. No, thanks. I'll stick with DVDs until I can buy HD movies online.
      • IMO, it's not even a matter of boycotting. If my now 5 month old DLP television won't be able to display hi-def content provided by these new media, then what reason do I have to upgrade? I predict a couple of things will happen:

        * Consumers who are aware of the limitations won't purchase the equipment until they have displays capable of using them
        * Consumers who are unaware of the limitations (arguably, the majority) will purchase the equipment, discover that it does not work and then return it
        * Other consu
      • Re:Who wins? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by twehrle (580963)
        I agree. I will be boycotting this as well. I am a big home theater person as well, with a considerable investment in it. I would really like to have a high definition DVD, and I have the equipment to display it properly. But the way they architected this with all the copy protection, I will not be investing in this as well. No high-def over component video is stupid. That just cuts off the whole benefit of the technology for the majority that it is targeted for.
    • Neither wants to license patents from the other or otherwise be excluded. That would be a big loss.

      So they fight. To encourage adoption, they have to keep down the licensing fees. That means other electronics vendors get a "good" deal (pay an arm only, not the leg too).

      In the end the royalties are split between the two groups and everything supports both formats.

      Of course, the whole royalties thing is sick, but currently a given.
    • Re:Who wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@NOspAm.earthshod.co.uk> on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:25AM (#14890338)
      The format war benefits the Hollywood studios.

      If we're expecting a straightforward repeat of VHS vs. Beta, then it will go something like this: The first round of Early Adopters will buy both systems in quantities roughly proportional to manufacturers' established market shares {Sony and Sanyo made Beta kit; JVC supplied cheap VHS machines, built under licence in sewing-machine factories, to rental companies for badge-engineering}. One system will eventually come to dominate, for a reason ultimately determined by neither the consumers nor the manufacturers {VHS recorders, which were mainly supplied on a rental basis, were more easily field-maintained than the technically-superior Beta system}.

      However, this time around there will be a crucial difference. When Beta died out, and customers renting Beta machines had to be supplied with VHS replacements, the rental companies took it upon themselves to copy users' accumulated tape libraries onto the new format {Macrovision had not been invented then}. This time, owners of the "failed" format will simply be expected to purchase their favourite films again, to the benefit of the movie studios.

      So you bought a film once on VHS, again on VHS because the first one wore out, then on DVD, then once {if you picked the winner of the new format wars from day one} or twice {if you didn't} on the new, high-definition discs.

      The crucial deciding factor with cassettes turned out to be field-maintenance. I'm guessing that this time, with new high-definition discs, the crucial deciding factor will be how easily any intended consumer-shafting measures {under the colour of copy-prevention} can be defeated. The important company to watch here is Sony, because they make the discs and the players; so they are unlikely to make copying easy on their players, since they would be shooting themselves in the foot. Player manufacturers who are not involved in the content industry have less to worry about {and the people working in their labs, who are ideally-placed to introduce backdoors, enjoy a movie as much as the next person .....}
    • by littlem (807099)
      Who does this format war even benefit? I'm glad that some vendors will support both formats, but I for one will be waiting for things to die down before I invest in either format.
      Certainly not DVD Jon - with two different formats to crack he might need to spend two afternoons working on it instead of one.
    • I would look at the recent dvd + and - format war: it ended with producers needing to support both formats and consumers needing to upgrade to read some media or pay a lil more for new devices supporting the two variants.

      IMHO producers are not interested in a clear winner for a format war. If there is no clear winner the first drives supporting hd or blu ray only will be obsolete when the hybrid drives begin popping up at reasonable price.
  • Toshiba pushing HARD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dsginter (104154) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:53AM (#14890149)
    I was just driving around in the metro Detroit area only to notice that Toshiba is going promos for HD DVD at most of the electronics joints. They are spewing this stuff over the local radio stations so I stopped in.

    Most consumers seem to be blown away. I think that being first to market ("later this month") will be a big win for HD DVD.
    • by elrous0 (869638) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:02AM (#14890200)
      Blu-ray looked like the easy winner for a while there. But they're coming out later and at double the price of HD-DVD. Add in the delay of the PS3 (supposedly the "poor man's blu-ray player") and it doesn't exactly make blu-ray look like the champ it once was.

      -Eric

      • But they're [Blu-Ray] coming out later and at double the price of HD-DVD.

        One thing that I noticed at the Toshiba demos was the recognition that the term "HD DVD" was getting. Consumers know both HD and DVD separately so this is a huge advantage over "Blu Ray".

        The demo was a split screen comparison of SDTV compared to HD DVD. On a big TV, that made HD DVD look real impressive and most onlookers were eating it up. When I suggested that the rep compare DVD with HD DVD, he just shrugged and said that they di
        • by elrous0 (869638) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:16AM (#14890285)
          It looks like the bad guys will win again.

          Since when is Sony "the good guys"? With all the DRM on both formats, I'd say they're BOTH the bad guys. But, given choice of the lesser of two evils, I'd definitely go with almost ANYONE over Sony. With the recent rootkit debacle and their inexplicably fanatical obsession with preventing any hacking of the PSP, I wouldn't trust them to take out my trash much less design a new media format.

          -Eric

          • For a while, Blu-Ray was in a good company: Apple, porn, PS3, while HD-DVD was associated with Microsoft. This had tipped the scales, at least for me in favor of Blu-Ray. But lately with Sony's rootkit fiasco, late and overpriced PS3s, the scale is tipping the other way.
            But their heavy DRM schemes really constrict both standards.

            I'll probably only be interested in them once the burners are available at reasonable prices so that I can make nice HD home movies on my Mac. As of now, with the current limitation
          • But, given choice of the lesser of two evils, I'd definitely go with almost ANYONE over Sony.

            Yeah, same here. The only exception? Microsoft... who just happen to support HD DVD.

            If HD DVD wins, Microsoft are going to control your living room just like they control most PCs today. With Bluray, we have a chance to get some good open source tools for hacking the Java based software and menues.

            • Microsoft SUPPORTS HD-DVD, they don't control it in any shape or form. Microsoft could just as easily turn around and support Blu-ray tomorrow, would that mean they would control your living room of Blu-ray wins? No. Supporting a format does not mean you control it.
    • by smackenzie (912024) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:11AM (#14890257)
      I used to think Sony had a sure win. I'm definitely not sure anymore. Look at:

      HD DVD on Vista

      Toshiba releasing a laptop reasonably soon with HD DVD

      cheaper MSRP ($499 vs $999 and $799 vs $1799)

      Sony is releasing first round of writable blu-ray disks that are slow (2x) and smaller than first release HD DVD (25 GB vs 30 GB)

      Studios and electronic manufacturers increasingly hedging their bets.

      Delay of PS3

      I'm really beginning to believe that, once again, Sony competition (HD DVD) will become the "normal" standard with Blu-ray being the standard for those with a Sony PS3 or Sony-compatible hardware. Statistically speaking, that's exactly what has happened in the past with various degrees of success (Beta, Memory Sticks, Mini-discs, UMD, etc.)
      • Statistically speaking, that's exactly what has happened in the past with various degrees of success (Beta, Memory Sticks, Mini-discs, UMD, etc.)

        Without speaking to the "statistics," it sure does seem like whenever you go with Sony you have to swallow hard about the more expensive format of whatever it turns out to be. Just about the only exception in my life is my cheaper, kids' camcorder -- which happens to be the one case I've considered where they went with the same digital tape, and compression, ever

      • Sony is releasing first round of writable blu-ray disks that are slow (2x) and smaller than first release HD DVD (25 GB vs 30 GB)

        Umm pardon me if I've missed something, but is the first generation of HD DVD burners dual layer? Or are you comparing the 30GB pressed platters to 25GB writable? And given how dual-layer DVDs have turned out, I'm not so sure if that's a big issue...
  • DVD still King! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ivan kk (917820)
    It don't really matter what format is gonna win, everyone will still purchase dvds for years to come.
    • Supported by the fact that there is still a tidy trade in prerecorded VHS movies. Many of my local grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations still have them for about $5.
    • I wish people would start producing HD-output capable DVD players that could do HD-WMV and HD-DivX or HD-Xvid.

      Then I could watch recorded HD shows on my DVD player.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:54AM (#14890156)
    If you're only going to support one, people will not buy 'til they know which format is going to win and wait it out before buying a $1000+ piece of electronics that is obsolete in a year when the war is over.

    By supporting both, you can convince people to buy, because no matter which format it's going to be, you will be able to play it. If they cannot see where the balance is going, they will not buy at all. Not having something is still better than having something that has no support anymore in a year.

    Thus the strongest pushers in one or the other direction, insisting on supporting only one format, are not going to sell many of their players.

    And, in turn, of their consoles. Sony will most likely only support BluRay in their PS3. If BluRay loses the format war, this would be a serious blow to their sales.
    • That applies to the people who actually know there is a format war going on, but I don't think that includes as many of average Joe Consumers out there as one might think. There are still many people out there who will simply buy whichever format hits the streets first, because it's what they'll immediately see as "the new DVD." These are the folks who will end up royally screwed and angry if another format turns up and buries their one.
      • You have a much larger clued consumer base in this sector. Don't ask me why, but even my father already realized that there are 2 conflicting standards coming our way (and he's asking me constantly which one it is going to be *sigh*).

        It is very true that the first to come will be the first to be bought. Especially HD-DVD has a huge advantage, having the well known "DVD" in its name. The connection "HD-DVD == new DVD" will be made more easily than "BluRay == ...wtf?"

        Still it isn't as bad as it is in the comp
        • You have a much larger clued consumer base in this sector. Don't ask me why

          Good point, possibly because most people today remember something of the VHS vs Beta fiasco.. then again, someone had to buy those last few Betamax machines off the line.
  • GOOD! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Randolpho (628485) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:55AM (#14890158) Homepage Journal
    I hated the DVD +/- wars. They were stupid and quite frankly boring to me as a consumer of DVD video.

    The whole war died when everybody started supporting both formats. Here's hoping the HD/Blue war will die without a shot fired.
    • Really? I found the +/- wars as very exciting : At first it looked like - was going to win, with its slightly larger format, then + seemed to be winning the race with more support.. then it all ended rather suddenly with everybody support dual readers/writers. That was a shame.

      I convinced myself that + was good, and - was evil, so supporting + was a good thing. Now with the dual drives, they sort of cancel each other out. It is sort of like google's motto "do no evil" - sure that is ok, but not as good as "
  • DVD -- schmevedee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iogan (943605) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:55AM (#14890159) Homepage
    I know, it would be cool with a billion pixels, and 15.1 sound systems and all that, but honestly, when is someone going to start making movies worth while watching again? I mean seriously, my biggest problem is finding stuff worth the time watching -- not that my TV is too small, or the resolution too low. I mean, my eyes are only this good, I honestly don't think I can tell that much of a difference.

    Anyway, that's todays rant about the state of modern culture all done with. I feel better already.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:01AM (#14890198)
      No kidding. I gave up reading books because the resolution and clarity just wasn't there, not to mention the lack of sound. When they start printing books on super high-resolution, make-lots-of-noise-when-I-turn-the-page paper, then I'll consider reading again...
      • Re:DVD -- schmevedee (Score:3, Informative)

        by fossa (212602)

        You do know the resolution of a printed book is an order of magnitude greater than any screen, yes?

        • On the other hand, it's usually just ASCII, so it easily compresses pretty well, especially if you pick the right compression format.

          Oh wait, weren't we supposed to be talking about something else? I recall something about blue disks...?

    • You're right about the Hollywood movies sucking, but think about going on a vacation and recording beautiful sunsets, scenery and architecture in HD. Then you can stick it in your PC and edit it and have a nice little DVD with slideshow photos all in high-res to remember it by.

      I agree with you, I could care less for commercial movies, but it would be nice to make home movies in HD.
    • when is someone going to start making movies worth while watching again?

      In My Father's Den [imdb.com] One of thousands of recent movies worth watching.

      Just because something isn't advertised on T.V. doesn't mean it's illegal.
  • How many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:55AM (#14890160)
    How many people will buy either of these new formats and still plug 'em in via legacy jacks?

    I imagine most /.ers will avoid both formats until there is a clear winner, and the prices drop.

    • That won't work though, will it? Because of copy protection.

      Maybe this would be a good thing, if a lot of people buy them, and then return them when they don't work. Might get some people thinking.
    • ...because the players won't have them.
    • I don't think that is going to be possible per HDCP [wikipedia.org]

      You'll be require to hook them into digital jacks just to make it work....

      on a side note...I so totally agree about people with fancy equipment hooking into legacy jacks. I have a Cisco buddy that has his Xbox and dvd player connected via composite cables. He then wonders why my xbox on the same 65" tv looks so much better....component video wonderful stuff.
  • I was looking forward to these until that whole HDCP mess. My nice HDTV uses the "analogue hole" to get its signal, something those dicks in the MPAA don't like. If anything, I'm rooting for Blu-ray. As much as I hate Sony lately, more storage is always better, and I'd almost be able to fit my mp3 collection on one disc.
  • by babbling (952366) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:59AM (#14890182)
    Xvid files can be put on any storage device/media! Furthermore, they have a greater reaching compatibility: you can play them on Linux, Mac, Windows, and many DVD players. If a device doesn't support your Xvid file, there are free tools (mencoder) [mplayerhq.hu] available that let you re-encode it into almost any other format and codec.

    The unfortunate part is that you can't buy these superior Xvid files, because none of the companies that sell TV shows are willing to sell such a great product. Luckily, "torrent sites" have filled the gap in the market. They're against the law (assuming copyrighted content, that is...), but superior.
    • you can't buy these superior Xvid files, because none of the companies that sell TV shows are willing to sell such a great product.

      No, you can't buy them because you studios can't put any kind of DRM on Xvid files. That makes it a no-brainner for them.

      No DRM = No studio support. End of story

      -Eric

      • That's completely stupid.

        You can put a DRM wrapper on any type of file you want.

        End of story.
        • You can put a DRM wrapper on any type of file you want.

          No you can't, smartass, because Xvid is open-source under a GNU GPL license. That means you couldn't wrap the format in any DRM format which restricts its open-source nature. In other words: Use Xvid, can't use DRM.

          End of story.

          -Eric

          • You need to go learn how the GPL works. First, it protects the code, not the content. Second, someone certainly could hack code into Xvid that would do DRM against a TCPM chip or whatnot for a key. They would have to make that code available, but that won't really help you to get around it, because they wouldn't have to make the keys available.

            More important, as the other poster said, you could always simply use a different container, that included DRM, and drop Xvid and AC3 into it. You can embed Xvid
          • They could do what most companies do: Just use it anyway and then laugh at the puny legal efforts from the open source community.
    • Ok, you've sold me.

      Now, do I put these Xvid files on HDDVD or Bluray disks? Instruct me! :D
    • The unfortunate part is that you can't buy these superior Xvid files, because none of the companies that sell TV shows are willing to sell such a great product. Luckily, "torrent sites" have filled the gap in the market.

      And the market hath spoken, and it was good.

      Amen.
  • by OzPhIsH (560038) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:01AM (#14890195) Journal
    I'm not buying either "next generation" format for their DRM crippled HD video content. I'll be supporting whichever format has the first cheap burner with reasonable priced blank discs. If DRM is a big hurdle in te way of that, kiss my support goodbye.
  • The 8.5GB dual layer discs will now be MUCH cheaper, right? Anyone?
  • by limabone (174795) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:03AM (#14890214)
    I have a DVD player (OPPO Digital OPDV971H) that does a really good job of upsampling a dvd to HDTV quality (up to 1080p I believe, although my tv doesn't support it). It all depends on the quality of the DVD itself, but the better the DVD transfer, the better it looks. I have a 60" Sony LCD and upsampled movies look fantastic. Good transfers like Sin City, or Finding Nemo for example look gorgeous.
    You can buy an upsampling DVD player at your local electronics store for a tenth of the price of a blu-ray or hd dvd player, and then you can sit on the sidelines and watch the current format war wage, and save yourself some money.
    • but the better the DVD transfer, the better it looks.

      Thanks, Professor! :-)

    • My computer and PowerDVD seems to do a pretty good job of upscaling too. (Granted, I'm playing through a projector with RGB input, but you can get videocards with component output, or DVI->HDMI, depending on your display's inputs.)
    • It does NOT transform a DVD into HD quality. Upconverting from 480i to anything doesn't make it HD anymore than does slapping a snazzy body kit on a Yugo make it suddenly drive like an Aston-Martin. You are still saddled with the limitations of the original, 480i, source material. The promise of HD DVD formats is that the source is actually high quality from the start.

      That said I won't be buying one for quite a while as I think it's going to be a long, stupid, battle until one format finally emerges as a
    • You know the scaler in your Sony TV is better than the one in that DVD player. Its placebo that you think it looks better, or you don't have the settings between the two inputs you used matched up. If you used a 480i component signal (if you have a DVD player that supports it) or even 480p, you'd get a better picture. You just have to tell the TV that the source material on that input is cinematic (I don't remember what they call it, I set it up ages ago in my Sony set) and let it do the rest. It'll do the
      • The TV is definitely not better at upsampling. Believe me I didn't just rush out and purchase an upsampling DVD player. For sure the dvd player does a much better job at upsampling than the TV. I wrestled long and hard on whether to actually pull the trigger, and I have no regrets. The quality difference is noticeable. I did a random test with friends and family; I would randomly select which image I would show them first, and have them say which one they thought was better. A couple of people said they did
      • Nope, sorry, the Sony tv scaler is not better. I've got a Sony 50 lcd, and i was first running my regular old player in via component cables. After i picked up the upconvert player from Toshiba, it makes a noticable difference. As a side-note, if you hook up the upconvert player via component cables, you get a regular 480p signal to your tv. You only get 720p and 1080i when using the HDMI connection.
  • That is to say... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CleverNickedName (644160) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:04AM (#14890215) Journal
    "Next DVD Format War Still Wide Open"
    I other words "Still No News on the DVD Format War".

    I'll just pick up a Playstation3 and hope Blu-Ray wins out.
  • by ursabear (818651) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:05AM (#14890222) Homepage Journal
    Danger: what follows is strictly opinion. Thank you.

    I think the new generation of what becomes the evolution of the digital versatile disk [wikipedia.org] will have to pass the BetaMax test. Most folks who have the money to purchase "the next big technology" of video interaction have either experienced or heard about the VHS vs. BetaMax battle. Without exception, the people to whom I have spoken (about next-generation "DVD") have said, "I'm waiting until the dust settles, and then I'll start thinking about buying one of the new-technology devices." The second thing they have said (again, without exception) is, "I hope the players will play my stack of old-format DVDs."

    I have the strong feeling that the manufacturers and implementers will fight it out, and the consumer will watch and wait. Whomever wins out will get the lion's share of the "going forward" business.

    Something that is very important to me: I hope that the "battle" will be short-lived. Here's to hoping that once things settle, the economies of scale and availability will make the next generation DVD-type disks (and players) quickly affordable.
    • I'm reasonably certain that players for either format will support regular DVD discs as well. Nobody is that dumb.

      In the end, this looks like it might turn out like the DVD-R/DVD+R battle. General consumer confusion and annoyance until everybody just goes out and builds dual format hardware.
  • Does anyone have any idea how format support will affect price? I mean, today the difference in cost between a CD-ROM drive and a DVD/CD-ROM drive is pretty small, but 5 years ago the difference was significant.

    So if manufacturers make devices that will support both HD formats, how much more expensive will those be than devices which support only one format? (Obviously most if not all the devices will support legacy formats from CDs to DVDs).

    • It's a very interesting question, with some telling answers. HD-DVD has the same physical structure as current DVDs--the data film layer is sandwiched between two .6mm layers of transparent plastic. Blu-Ray has the film closer to the bottom of the disc, with a very thin layer of scratch-resistant plastic covering it

      This is the reason why manufacturers were much happier about HD-DVD than Blu-Ray--they can produce HD-DVD on the same lines with much the same equipment as normal DVDs. Blu-Ray requires muc
  • So - (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <[jhummel] [at] [johnhummel.net]> on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:10AM (#14890254) Homepage
    Am I the typical person who isn't going to buy either one because the standard is full of shit and "downgraded signals if you don't have the right interfaces" and "I don't want to buy two players", or am I the anomaly?

    After all, these competing standards only matter if you have a HDTV (which I don't plan to have until around, oh, 2009 or so - about when the current one dies and I need something else to play "Final Fantasy XVI" on - or hopefully "Zelda: Twilight Princess" by then.

    So I plan on just sitting back, letting both sides make asses out of themselves, and maybe this will wind up like the original Divx - a technology that nobody really wanted to buy.

    Of course, this is just my opinion - I could be wrong.
  • Uhh, wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:12AM (#14890262)
    All of the stories I've seen is that LG and HP are no longer exclusively going to support Blu-ray (Don't know about Fujitsu-Siemens). Lets review. HD-DVD is coming out in two weeks, and Blu-ray isn't. HD-DVD players are as much as $500 cheaper than Blu-ray. HD-DVD is (not necessarily exclusively) backed by HP, Microsoft, Toshiba, Intel, NEC, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Bros and other industry giants. The PS3 is ridiculously delayed and its success must be considered in doubt, given its cost and the 360's early release.

    Why is Blu-ray even interesting? Because sony supports it? I realize it is a superior format in terms of technology (not price), however, with companies jumping off the exclusivity bandwagon, HD-DVD may have already won. Sony must realize this.
    • by Benzido (959767) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:19AM (#14890305)
      I think Sony's Playstation team is deliberately holding up the PS3 launch because they aren't at all sure Blu-ray will win. PS3 will certainly die if it has a completely unwanted component that makes up for a third of its cost.
      • It's probably too late to change the type of drive though. In fact "wait and see" seems really self destructive for a product that is supposed to be the big shoehorn for the technology.

        Besides, being proprietary and overpriced has never stopped Sony before. Does anybody still have a Memory Stick or two somewhere?
  • Let the fight go on! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Captain Zep (908554) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:16AM (#14890286)
    The longer this format war lasts, the better.

    Benefits of new format:

    1. Higher resolution (which hardly anyone will even notice - certainly not the majority of people who don't have huge displays).
    2. Erm, that's it really.

    Disadvantages of new format:

    1. Another new player to have to buy.
    2. Excessive DRM which means that just because a disk used to play is no guarantee that it will next time you try it (due to inevitable bugs in mandatory firmware upgrades, if nothing else).
    3. Risk of irreversibly trashing your player if source disk has broken new firmware (mandatory install, remember).

    If people start buying these things in droves, then the studios will be able to stop DVD production, and force the rest of us to use them too if we want any new content.

    But, a combination of lack of clear benefits, together with excessive DRMing, and lack of a clear format winner, will hopefully mean that these players will be ignored and flop. In which case the studios aren't going to stop making DVDs even though they'd like to.

    If they do take off, I can't wait for the first mandatory firmware upgrade that breaks a whole bunch of players. I'd love to see the studios explain what they are going to do about that.

    Unless the DRM is removed (which isn't likely), then the only interest I have in this technology is watching it fail as a film format, then become available as a cheap data storage format for computers. Shame really, cos I like films.

    Z.

    • Well pirated movies will probably get higher possible resolution out of this.

      And maybe they'll start being consistently encoded to fit 1 on a 4.7 Gig DVD or 2 in 4.7 or somehting like this and motivate them to stop encoding for the 700 mb traditional pirate format.
  • by FlyByPC (841016) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:22AM (#14890319) Homepage
    We have the technology to build drives that support both, but this will result in more expensive devices, especially given that both formats require different physical lasers. I for one won't be buying one until it's clear that it will support any new media -- and it will probably take a lot longer for drives to drop to the magic price point where Joe Sixpack will buy one, if they have to include support for two physical formats.

    The whole DVD+-RW thing was a mess, but at least they're relatively similar formats, and a drive supporting both can be made reasonably cheaply.

    The format war will fizzle -- but wouldn't it be better for everyone, including device manufacturers, if we skipped the nonsense this time?
  • HD on Regular DVD! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acomj (20611) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:31AM (#14890374) Homepage
    I got "step into liquid" because i like watching surfing. It came with a second disk, that was the movie in hi-def. Cool I thought, then after poking around the disk realized it was some windows media format that I can't play on my mac. But isn't the h268 codec good enough for hi-def movie on regular dvd?

    Otherwise the larger format should win! (1 season = 1 disk sounds good to me)
    • by hotani (166671)
      That was the original plan of HD-DVD, to be a better compression format of HD quality movies to fit on a normal (AKA: red laser) DVD. Actually, a format called EVD already exists [lsilogic.com] in China which does just that, but we'll never see it over here. Apparently the disks would be playable in current computer DVD drives as long as you had the software. Good going HD-DVD and Blu Ray for not jumping on THAT, sheesh - that would be so bad for business if people could get higher quality movies without having to also bu
  • enrichment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I love this quote -

    Asked if consumers would have to buy their favorite movies again, Blu-ray spokesman Simonis said: "Of course! But it will enrich your life."

    try, instead -
    "Of course! But it will enrich [my corporation]."
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:42AM (#14890459) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm, if the format war drags out too long it will be a moot point. Networked DVRs with broadband internet connections and large hard drives are going to make physical media a thing of the past for many people. When I can easily rent a movie and download it to my TiVo in just a few minutes, I won't care about DVD formats at all. And over time, I won't really care to own the movie either as long as I can see it any time I want at some reasonable cost. I think the current iTunes model would work pretty well for what I have in mind. So the Sony and Toshiba camps would be smart to settle their differences quickly before the consumer moves on.
  • Buy a pile of PC's having DVD-RW drives on board of all flavors with all kind of OS-flavors, buy DVD-RW stand-alone drives of all flavors and keep them in good shape, ie. don't use them, keep them packed.

    Why ? Because there will be a day people cannot play that particular DVD-format because it has become obsolete. And if the content is very valuable (eg. family pics, movies, data) people will be willing to pay large sums of green to you if you are able convert it.
  • by gerwen (960269) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:22AM (#14890722)
    I was an early adopter of the HDTV format. First person I knew to have an hdtv AND hdtv content to view.

    Fast forward 4 (or 5) years. This format war is meaningless to me because neither player will work on my TV. I don't have any DRM enabled inputs because my TV was built before they existed.
    I have an upconverting DVD player that only works with my tv because of some almost-hacks that disable HDCP and macrovision to allow the upconvert over component. Unless i can find a similar player that will allow me to bypass DRM, (I know, dream on) I won't be going HD DVD or Blu-Ray.

    I'm the customer they want, but they can't have me since they stabbed me in the back last time.
    • I seem to keep posting this message :).

      Reach around. You'll find it's a paperclip in your back, not a knife.

      If you have a 4-5 year old set, it's probalby a 720p display, or a 1080i CRT.

      If you have a disc that uses analog downrez (ICT), your image will get scaled down to 960x540 before being scaled up for output. Still more image data than DVD (720x480), with every pixel perfect (since each is nicely scaled down from 4 soure pixels). For a set of your vintage, you probably won't miss much with ICT.

      Also, I
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:14PM (#14891049)
    "We are planning to put both in. We don't take a stand in that fight"

    While including both isn't supporting one over the other, if they really don't want to influence the outcome, they should offer PC's with neither, either, and both, and let consumers decide.

    By standardizing on both, they can affect the format war by pushing us towards a permanent lock-in on both standards. If people's PC's have both players anyway (without an option to save money and only get one), they might as well buy disks of either type, right? They can play them. Then they're never going to want to upgrade to new equipment that won't play all the disks they already own...

    Supporting both is not an entirely neutral position. There are a lot of comments here about people waiting for someone to win the format wars before they buy. No one's ever going to win if consumers end up forced to support both formats if they want to support either.

  • by sailracer6 (262434) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:50PM (#14891356) Journal
    I'm dead serious -- I'm not implying that it will get used, but there's certainly enough talent out there that an open-source video disc specification could be authored. Just as some DVD player manufacturers began to support Divx video playback in their machines, it might get included and gain some mindshare.

    Really, why not? There's already an open video codec (Theora) and people around here seem to have a pretty good idea of what they want (no DRM, as high-definition as possible).

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